For 70% of Americans over the age of 65, nursing home care is an inevitable reality. Assisted living facilities meet this need by offering care for many individuals who are no longer able to care for themselves.
This care, however, has a steep price.
For many elders, the cost of these necessary medical interventions can drain their finances— diminishing their nest-egg and placing them on financially unstable ground. In extreme cases, even assets such as their home are placed in jeopardy, especially if a loan must be taken out in order to pay for medical treatment.
While these realities are frightening for many, there are ways in which estate planning can help buffer the cost of long term care, making it more accessible to those in need and less harmful to an individual’s estate.
The Two Sides of Estate Planning
When either creating an estate plan for the first time or doing routine updates on an existing document, there are two main benefits to meticulous maintenance.
First, estate plans will help fulfill your inheritance wishes when you have passed on. It gives you control over who receives what and any special considerations you want to make around disbursements, such as providing for a family member with special needs.
Second, estate planning can help outline what will happen if you are alive, but no longer able to take care of yourself. It allows you to assign a healthcare power of attorney to make decisions if you are not able to act in sound mind, ensuring your end-of-life care stays true to what you desire.
Common Estate Plans
When deciding on the right estate plan for your needs, there are many options available to you. While they are all similar, each document serves a different function.
A living will is also known as a medical directive and, as the name suggests, is a document which sets forth how you would like to be medically cared for in the event you are no longer able to communicate those wishes. This document includes your end-of-life care plans which can include whether or not you utilize life support and for how long you wish those treatments to continue.
Durable Power of Attorney
For those with businesses, this document gives a specified individual decision-making abilities over your business in the event you become incapacitated.
While there are different kinds of trusts, the general idea of these documents is to help you manage your assets and their disbursement.
You Might Need Insurance
While this is not something I have professional experience in, this option can be popular for individuals who are at risk for having extreme medical expenses later in life.
For some families who know nursing home care is going to be unavoidable, getting Long Term Care Insurance might be a smart decision. This is especially true when considering that many individuals in nursing home care are otherwise healthy and can live many more years, but simply need the assistance in areas such as daily life and memory care.
Contact an Estate Planning Expert
When it comes to end of life care, I have helped countless families get their paperwork in order to make their wishes a reality.